Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ask Auntie EM

Have you heard about the new weekly blog post called "Ask Auntie EM"? Ann Hartley of Hartleystudio and, Sue Szabo of lsueszabo , will be answering YOUR questions in a weekly post we are calling "Ask Auntie EM". EtsyMetal has over 100 members with vast amounts of knowledge and far reaching interests and capabilities. We figured if we couldn't answer your questions...someone on the team could! "What can we ask?" Great question! Ask anything! Metalsmithing, enameling, raising, stone setting, cooking, childcare, travel...you got a question, we probably have an answer! Email your questions to askauntie@etsymetal.com and YOUR question might get answered next week!!!

This week's question comes from Lina, who asked "How do you transfer patterns to metal?"

Well Lina, there are many different ways to do this depending on what you are trying to achieve.

For a general pattern that I plan to saw out or pierce with a saw, I will make a copy of the pattern to size and use rubber cement to glue it to the metal. I "burnish" the paper down to get rid of any bubbles or extra glue and let it dry (this takes about 20-30 mins.) This will hold your paper pattern to the metal and allow you to saw right through it easily. When done, the pattern will just pull off. You can also use super glue in the same way and burn it off with the torch when you are done- make sure you use a vent when doing this as the fumes of burning super glue are toxic.

Another way to transfer a pattern is to paint the metal with a material called China White. This comes in a little block of pigment from jewelry, enamel, and art suppliers. You dampen a brush with water and rub it on the China White pigment and paint it on the metal. It will barely be visible and will not really look white. That's OK, that's what it's supposed to look like. Let it dry. This will put a thin coat of matte pigment on your metal and you can directly draw on it with a graphite pencil. If you have an exact or complex drawing, you can put a piece of graphite paper between the metal and the drawing and just trace over the pattern lines with a pencil, transferring the graphite to the China White surface. This is quite a stable surface and does not rub off easily. The pigment can then be removed with soap and water or burned off with a torch under a vent.

My favorite scribes and China White, complete with the Rio Grande number

If you need a truly exact transfer, you really need to use a fine sharp steel scribe to put a fine line in the metal. Remember that whenever you use a pencil or a Sharpie marker, the thickness of the marking line will effect the exactness of your design. A scribe will give you the thinnest line and thus, the most exacting transfer. It may also be necessary to scribe the line of a drawing so that you will have a permanent line on the metal. This is helpful if you need to heat the metal (for soldering or annealing) before all of the pattern has been sawn, for example. The heat from those processes will remove Sharpie, glue, paper, or China White so scribing your lines will give you a guide to follow later. Plan accordingly.

If I want to transfer a simple pattern, for example, a pattern for a cone or a spiculum I want to make, I will generally start with a paper template pattern. I make these out of used manila folders- they are stiff enough to hold shape but still flexible. I will cut a pattern out of the folder and play with it until I can get it to work and form the shape I want. I then use either glue or double-sided tape and place the paper pattern on the metal. I then use a fine Sharpie and draw around it or I scribe the line around the paper template onto the metal.

Of course there are other ways to transfer patterns, including etching, but we'll save that for another day. These are the basic ways I use to transfer patterns to metal- please feel free to share yours.
Til next week, happy metalsmithing!



Riv from Purpleshiny said...

I like to use something called "Yes Paste", which you can spread on with a spatula (or improvised spatula, like a piece of cardboard). It dries relatively easily, and washes off in warm water after you're done sawing.

rubygirl said...

My tip for sawing is to use mail labels. I print whatever I want to saw on the paper I use for mail labels. It is sticky-backed, so no waiting for glue or rubber cement to dry and it stays in place - no sliding. It can be hard to remove, but I just burn it off with my torch.

Rebecca Bogan said...

Thanks everyone! These are great tips.

L Sue Szabo said...

thanks everyone- does anyone have a question for next week?

Ann Hartley said...

Yes, please!!! Questions for us for next week would be great!!!

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